Three Line Tales : Midas touch


three line tales, week 128: a golden person

photo by Sharon McCutcheon via Skillshare


 

The royal apartments lay heavy under the stench of a hundred fires. He’d opened the shutters the evening before, sat shivering at the window seat as the sharp stink of burning wood, the tang of hot metal – even the sweat of the founders – fouled the air.

How was his love? Fretful, sleepless, on her knees in prayer? He closed his eyes at the thought of her wasted frame chafed by a rough flax shift, just as he closed his eyes to the note she had passed the jailer. That wavering handwriting – so changed from the sinuous curves of her early love letters – crawled through his nights, scratched at his tranquility like a fleshing knife.

The judgement had been unanimous, it was out of his hands. And the punishment for treason had remained the same since his great grandfather’s time. But he was still the king – one word to the executioner had been enough. Molten gold would replace lead.


Written for Three Line Tales. See the pic and send a link here.

I know this is a horrible end, but it is not without historical precedent. According to Smithsonian.com both the Ancient Romans and South American tribes used molten gold as a method of execution. Though perhaps not KIng Midas himself.

 

 

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#tuesdayuseitinasentence : The rest is silence

 

Swings, playground, play park, deserted, decay

Image : Pixabay


Afterwards, it was as if all noise had been sucked from the world.

The rumble-hum of traffic she could live without, the infant wail of car alarms and waspish hedge cutters.

But the trees no longer hushed in the wind, the grasses stopped whispering beneath them. The blackbirds no longer chattered, the sparrows ceased their bickering.

The playground was the worst – no laughter, no tears, even the swings stopped creaking.

The only sound came from her own body – groans of hunger, a cough, a rattle of phlegm in tired lungs.

Perhaps it was time to complete the silence.

 


Written for Stephanie Colpron’s #tuesdayuseitinasentence. Take the word – this week it’s SILENCE – and write some words. See here to join in.

The title is from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the eponymous hero’s dying words.

And here, just for fun is my favourite Depeche Mode song.

 

What Pegman Saw: Ahriman snips away the world

 

 

The cafe lights bleached the night, washing colour from the hoardings, turning people to cut outs.

Ahriman imagined taking sharp scissors, snipping away plastic chairs and litter bins, sycamore trees and scraps of discarded samusa, leaving only the figures behind, their legs bent in mid step, lifting cups of black tea to puckered lips. He saw the paper people stacked like plates, shuffled like playing cards, packed away when he tired of them.

He used to love humanity, its endless capacity for greed and hatred, its skill at weaving lies, glittering webs to trap the innocent before the fatal strike.

Now he walked among these flimsy beings, sharing the fragile beat of their hearts, the flicker of pulse so easy to snuff out.

Passing the fountain, a cool mist played across his skin, damping his hair.

Life had been better when he was a god.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Streetview as its starting point. Today we visit Tehran in Iran. See here to share, read and comment.

Notes

Ahriman is another name for Angra Mainyu, a destructive spirit in Zoroastrianism. Many believe Angra Mainyu will ultimately be destroyed, his power quenched. I imagined him passing into human form, becoming obsolete.

Samusa are pastries filled with spicy meat and vegetables. See here to discover more delicious Iranian food.

 

 

 

What Pegman Saw : Take me with you

 

‘What do you remember, Casey?’ asked Donaldson.

A bluebottle tapped at the blanked-out window, tangling in the curtain. Decorating the facility like a home had been Donaldson’s idea – better for the children, she thought – but the recycled air still smelt like plastic and singed hair.

Casey smoothed her doll’s skirt, straightened the plaits of golden wool. ‘A stone path,’ she said, ‘the colour of dirty sand. It’s bendy.’ She made a shape in the air with her hand. ‘The trees are black with branches like fingers.’

Zeb’s description had been identical. And Sunny Lo’s.

‘And it smells funny,’ said the little girl frowning. ‘Of the Big River after the flood. And of the day my bunny died.’

Donaldson crouched down, took the doll from Casey’s unwilling hands. ‘Can you go back?’ she said, eyes flicking to the surveillance camera.

The girl nodded.

‘Next time, take me with you.’

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View. This week, we visit Texas, I’ve used a photo sphere of Wildcat Bluff Nature Centre. See here to join in and to read the other tales.

 

 

 

 

What Pegman Saw : When the wind speaks

‘Mountains and mist, that’s all Father left. Mountains and mist.’ Mathys slashed out with his sword, a rope of prayer flags fluttering to the ground like wounded birds. His bitter tone crossed the valley, sending a quarrel of flycatchers into the grey.

Gaétan watched the little birds dart away, waited for the hush to resettle. Mathys had always been a restless soul, quick to anger, first to a fight where Gaétan had been happy to watch the trees grow, hear what the wind had to say.

True, their Father had bequeathed them nothing but crags and snow and fog thick as fallen cloud. But Gaétan had listened as the voices grew until every stalking wildcat, every vole shivering in its fusty burrow, every pin-eyed windhover – even the rocks themselves – spoke with one tongue.

She comes.

Over Blackheart Mountain a thunderhead gathered.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street view as it jumping off point. This week we visit Kangra Valley, India. See here to join in, share, read and comment.

 

 

 

 

What Pegman Saw : To rest among the gravestones

 

‘Can you do it?’ said Connor.

Sonny looked up from tying her laces, lights in her trainers winking in the sunset. ‘You know I can,’ she said.

Her hair was tied in a tangled pony tail, Hello Kitty tee shirt smudged with yesterday’s breakfast beans, eaten cold from the can.

Foot swinging, heel tapping on a slumped gravestone, his sister looked the eight-year-old she was. Not for long, he thought.

A blanket was already spread in the shadow of the archway. Sonny positioned herself on it and lay down, head pointing towards the tumbledown church, toes to the sweeping valley below. Her eyes closed, hands folding neatly on her chest.

He watched, though he hated to see the moment the little girl in her slipped away.

Silence.

Then her face convulsed, rearranged, settled into new folds.

‘Connor?’ said Sonny in a voice that wasn’t hers.

 


This piece of fantastical fiction was written for What Pegman Saw, the writing prompt that uses Google Street View as its starting point. See the pic and write a story, see here to do just that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Metamorphosis

 

A dozy blue bottle dashes against the window pane, body tock-tocking, a sound like thrown cooked rice.

Metallic soldier flies – emerald and sapphire – ding on the corrugated roof, as if their combined effort might lift the iron sheets from their bolts, set them loose in the chill night air.

Above a bowl – contents melted by rot – dance the fruit flies, their zigzagging a distraction from the bumble bee corpses lined up on the mantle piece, furry bobbles pinned to strips of padded crimson felt.

On every sill and shelf another order of invertebrate – Coleoptera, Dermaptera, Diptera, through the alphabet  – though each frustratingly incomplete.

My menagerie, live and dead.

I close my eyes and the buzz of the dead joins that of the living and my wings shimmer like finely spun glass.

 


This piece of fantastical flash fiction’s title was lovingly stolen from the novella of the same name by Franz Kafka. It surely contains one of the most arresting opening lines in literature.

As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.